May 2019

  • Bulgaria
    • Amendments to Local Taxes and Fees Act – gazetted

      On 10 May 2019, changes to the Local Taxes and Fees Act were published in the State Gazette. The amendments are related to the recent decision of the Constitutional Court on the real estate tax rate for residential property in resorts and provides details on refunding/offsetting overpaid amounts of tax. The changes are effective as of 20 April 2019.
    • Bulgaria to introduce obligatory transfer pricing documentation

      The Bulgarian Ministry of Finance initiated a public consultation on a bill for Amendment of the Tax and Social Security Procedures Code proposing obligatory transfer pricing documentation. The bill will implement obligatory transfer pricing documentation to justify the application of an arm’s length principle to related parties transactions. The documentation will be obligatory for those entities fulfilling the balance sheet criteria and the "materiality" of transactions they have undertaken. Entities concerned Entities involved in related parties transactions that satisfy the specified financial limits as at 31 December of a given year, will need to prepare specific transfer pricing documentation for:
      • Balance sheet value assets exceeding BGN 8 million (EUR 4 million); and
      • Net sales revenue exceeding BGN 16 million (EUR 8 million).
      Transactions to be covered The following transactions exceeding the respective annual limits will need to be covered by transfer pricing documentation:
      • Sales of goods exceeding BGN 400,000;
      • Provision of services exceeding BGN 200,000;
      • Transactions with intangible assets exceeding BGN 200,000;
      • Transactions with financial assets exceeding BGN 200,000; and
      • Loan transactions exceeding BGN 2 million or interest payments exceeding BGN 100,000.
      Documentation Concerned entities will need to prepare a local file and a master file when part of a multinational group of companies. The local file should be prepared by 31 March of the following year while the respective master file should be made available within 12 months after the deadline for preparation of the local file. Procedure and expected application Currently, the bill is undergoing public consultation, but it is expected that the amendments will come into force for 2019 and the first master files will need be prepared by 31 March 2020.
  • China
    • MOF Releases Preferential Income Tax Policies for Integrated Circuit Design and Software Companies

      The Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation recently issued the Announcement about Preferential Enterprise Income Tax Policies for Integrated Circuit Design and Software Companies. According to the announcement, eligible integrated circuit design and software companies will continue to enjoy enterprise income tax exemptions in the first two years if they had become profitable before December 31, 2018, and their income tax rate will be halved from the statutory tax rate of 25% from the third to the fifth year.
    • State Council Revises Administrative Regulations

      Premier Li Keqiang recently signed a decree to issue the Decision to Revise Some Administrative Regulations. Four administrative regulations will be amended, according to the decision. As for the Regulation on the Implementation of the Enterprise Income Tax Law, the 51st article has been revised as “the charitable donation in the ninth article of the Enterprise Income Tax Law refers to money that enterprises donate to charitable activities and good causes via charitable organizations or governments and related departments above the county level”.
    • Two Authorities Announce Policies Related to Vehicle Acquisition Tax

      The Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation issued on May 27, 2019 the Announcement about Policies Related to Vehicle Acquisition Tax. According to the announcement, the total price actually paid to the seller by taxpayers when they purchase the taxable vehicle for self-use shall be determined according to the price specified in the relevant vouchers, excluding the value-added tax. If a vehicle that has already been taxed with vehicle acquisition tax is returned to the automaker or seller, and the taxpayer wants to get a rebate of the vehicle acquisition tax, the period of use shall begin from the date of tax payment until the date of tax rebate application. The announcement will be effective from July 1, 2019.
    • Shanghai Adopts Resolution to Implement Foreign Investment Law

      The Standing Committee of Shanghai Municipal People's Congress voted on May 23, 2019 to adopt the Decision of Implementing the Foreign Investment Law. Ding Wei, director of legal affairs at the Standing Committee of Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, said the decision the first of its kind in China to implement the Foreign Investment Law, and it aims to ensure smooth enforcement of the law in Shanghai and support and authorize the municipal government to take positive and effective actions under the framework of the law. The decision has six articles, and the second article is about how to deal with inconsistencies between the city's local regulations and the national law.
  • South Africa
    • Kenya secures $666 million from China for tech city, highway

      NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya has secured 67.5 billion shillings ($666 million) in funding from China to build a data centre in a tech city currently under construction and a highway in Nairobi, the president’s office said on Friday. Kenya has turned to China over the past few years for funds, technology and equipment to develop its infrastructure, including its biggest project since independence, a new railway linking Mombasa to Nairobi, opened in 2017. The new funding will consist of loans at low interest rates and partnerships with private firms. The tech city will be built in Konza, about an hour’s drive from Nairobi. Chinese telecoms firm Huawei [HWT.UL] will develop the Konza project at a cost of 17.5 billion shillings, according to the statement from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s office. It was issued from Beijing, where Kenyatta is attending the second Belt and Road Forum. The remaining 50 billion shillings will go to build a highway in the capital linking the main airport with the suburbs, to be carried out by China Road and Bridge Corporation at a cost of 51 billion shillings. Critics accuse Kenyatta’s government of saddling future generations with unbearable debt burdens by borrowing more funds from China. The government says borrowing to build the infrastructure will spur economic development. ($1 = 101.4000 Kenyan shillings)
    • Côte d’Ivoire: French, Indian companies win contract for €300m drinking water projects

      French and Indian companies, Eiffage and Infra International, have been awarded a €300 million contract for the supply of drinking water in several regions of Côte d’Ivoire. The West African nation plans to construct 6,000 boreholes of drinking water in several localities of the country. The €300 million contract with Eiffage and Infra International is expected to provide 4,000 boreholes of drinking water. Last week, China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) has also been awarded a contract for the implementation of several drinking water supply projects across the country for about €97.5 million. In March, Suez SA, a French-based utility company, which operates largely in water treatment and waste management sectors, signed a €19m contract to supply and install 40 compact modular drinking water production units in Côte d’Ivoire. With a total production capacity of 92,000 m3/day, these units will supply 18 towns in 17 regions. The projects are part of the “Water for All” program meant to provide drinking water to 450,000 inhabitants by 2020. According to UNICEF, more than 8 million people – 43 % of Côte d’Ivoire’s population – lack appropriate sanitation facilities and over 4 million people still use unsafe drinking water.
    • Angolan exchange set for first IPOs in 2019 – bourse CEO

      LUANDA, May 2 (Reuters) - Angola, Africa’s second largest oil producer, should see its first ever initial public offerings this year as the country establishes a domestic stock exchange with the privatisation of multiple state companies, the bourse’s head said on Thursday. Patricio Vilar, chief executive officer of the Bodiva exchange, said he expected two IPOs to take place this year with a larger, unspecified, number set for 2020. He declined to give the names of the companies looking to list. “There are very clear signals that there will be initial public offerings this year,” Vilar told a news conference at the bourse’s headquarters in Luanda. Angola has previously said it is looking to privatise as many as 74 state companies in an effort to attract foreign investment and revitalise an economy that was plunged into a tailspin after the oil price fell in 2014. The southern African country has suffered three consecutive years of recession through 2018. Vilar said there were also five private companies that had shown concrete interest in an Angolan IPO. The Bodiva already serves as an exchange for the primary and secondary trading of Angolan state debt, but has not previously operated a stock exchange. “We think that with the advent of the coming privatisations of well known companies we will see a rapid change in the way companies finance themselves,” Vilar said, adding he expects a shift from state banks to the private sector and capital markets as Angola looks to open up its economy and improve transparency. (Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer Editing by Frances Kerry)
    • Rwanda set to establish a nuclear power plant centre

      Rwanda has announced plans to establish a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology (CNST) within the next five years. Robert Nyamvumba, the Energy Division Manager at the Ministry, revealed the reports and said the government is in talks with Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) on the development process. “Rwanda envisions having a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology in the nearest future. Last year we signed a a cooperation agreement on the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. You can’t believe that other countries are using nuclear (science) for better life and we can’t use it. We need to move faster,” said Mr.Robert. Mr. Roberts explained that the talks will focus on how both soft and physical infrastructure can be set up to pave way for nuclear energy development so it can be used in different areas such as agriculture, medicine, education, and electricity generation. A legal and policy framework will follow afterwards to pave way for the construction of a research nuclear reactor, with the first nuclear powered radiations being used to provide services in cancer treatment, food processing, and increase cassava and rice crop production. Additionally, the cooperation with ROSATOM will see Rwanda and Russia establish study programmes that will help the country acquire advanced knowledge in nuclear sciences, with the University of Rwanda training students from the undergrad level, and master’s level, to PhDs. “A time frame is being discussed, we are looking at 2023-2024. We are moving aggressively to see the centre established in Bugesera industrial park. The government has also secured technical support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and local experts are currently assessing how Rwanda can use the nuclear technology to increase cassava and rice production,” said Mr. Robert.
      Awareness campaign
      Chief Executive Officer for ROSATOM Central and Southern Africa, Dmitry Shornikov supported Mr. Robert and described nuclear energy as one of the reliable and affordable sources of energy, advising that many African countries should adopt it to respond to their energy demands. He added that by introducing radiation centres in Africa using nuclear technology, the shelf life of agricultural products can be improved. “Sixty years is the lifespan of a nuclear power plant but it can be extended to 100 years. We shouldn’t be just looking at the upfront cost of building a nuclear power plant. It is literally the cheapest electricity out here,”  said Mr. Dmitry Shornikov. The CEO also urged the need to have a lot of awareness campaigns in order to change people’s perception about nuclear energy. “We need to educate people. They need to be educated in very simple terms that nuclear power plants don’t explode like bombs.”
    • Occidental inks $8.8 billion deal to sell Anadarko’s African oil and gas assets to Total

      • Occidental Petroleum’s deal with French oil giant Total is contingent on the former reaching an agreement to buy Anadarko Petroleum.
      • Occidental is competing with Chevron, a much larger rival, to take over Anadarko.
      • Occidental would sell Anadarko’s assets in Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa to Total.
      Occidental Petroleum has reached a deal to sell Anadarko Petroleum’s oil and gas assets in Africa to French oil major Total for $8.8 billion. The agreement is contingent on Occidental first reaching an agreement to buy Anadarko and closing the deal. Occidental is competing with Chevron to acquire Anadarko. The announcement on Sunday offers some clarity on how Occidental would fund its cash-and-stock purchase of Anadarko. Occidental had said it would seek to sell $10 billion to $15 billion worth of assets to underwrite the $38 billion proposed takeover. Occidental said the sale of the Anadarko’s assets in Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa to Total would also reduce the challenges of integrating the two drillers. The deal with Total is a binding agreement, and the divestment of the African assets would happen at the same time Occidental closes a deal to purchase Anadarko or shortly after. “Given our long history of working together productively, I am confident we can execute this sale quickly and efficiently,” Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub said in a statement. “Total has extensive experience working in Africa and is well positioned to maximise value from these assets.” The divestment would leave Occidental with Anadarko’s holdings in U.S. shale basins, the Gulf of Mexico and South America. Occidental is primarily interested in Anadarko’s acreage in the Permian Basin, the top U.S. shale field stretching from western Texas to southeastern New Mexico. Chevron reached a deal to buy Anadarko for $33 billion last month, but Occidental later put in a higher offer. Anadarko’s board of directors is currently considering Occidental’s bid. Anadarko’s global footprint is widely seen by analysts as a better fit with Chevron’s portfolio, particularly the former’s Mozambique liquefied natural gas project. Chevron is a major player in the market for LNG, or natural gas super-chilled to liquid form for transport. The proceeds of the asset sales to Total would go towards funding the cash part of Occidental’s offer for Anadarko. The transaction is structured as a 50-50 cash-stock deal. The agreement with Total is Occidental’s latest effort to offer some certainty to investors about financing for the deal. Last week, the company revealed a $10 billion investment from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which is also contingent on the Anadarko deal closing and would fund the cash portion of the bid.
    • Bharti Airtel plans Sh500 billion Africa unit IPO

      Bharti Airtel Ltd, India’s second-biggest wireless carrier, is preparing to kick off the initial public offering of its Africa unit in a deal that could raise about Sh100 billion ($1 billion), people familiar with the matter said.Airtel Africa is planning to make a formal announcement about the London listing this month and aims to start trading in June, explained the source who requested not to be identified because the matter is private.It’s considering seeking an equity valuation of about Sh500 billion ($5 billion), they said. The IPO could be one of the biggest in London this year.The exchange’s lackluster domestic volumes are being boosted by emerging-market companies seeking a wider investor pool.Finablr, the currency-exchange firm controlled by an Abu Dhabi-based billionaire, ill start taking orders for a share sale that could raise as much as Sh67.7 billion ($677 million).

      Listing date

      Middle Eastern payments processor Network International Holdings Plc raised 1.1 billion pounds (Sh140 billion) last month in the largest London IPO this year.Valuation and the listing date are still under discussion, and final details could change depending on investor demand and market sentiment.A representative for Bharti Airtel declined to comment.Bharti Airtel, backed by billionaire Sunil Mittal, has spent heavily to defend its position in India against disruptive upstart Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.The firm’s Africa unit raised Sh125 billion ($1.25 billion) last year from investors including Temasek Holdings Pte and SoftBank Group Corporation, giving it an equity value of about Sh440 billion ($4.4 billion).The business has operations in 14 African markets including Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ghana, according to Bharti Airtel’s annual report.
    • Eni announces oil discovery in CTP-Block 4, offshore Ghana

      Eni, an Italian Oil and Gas Company, has announced the discovery of gas and condensate in the block four of the Cape Three Point (CTP) offshore production in Ghana. The well, drilled on the Akoma exploration prospect, proved an estimated volume between 550 and 650 bcf of gas and 18-20 mm bbl of condensate. The discovery has additional upside for gas and oil that would require further drilling to be confirmed. A statement from the External Communication Department of Sub Saharan Africa and copied to the GNA said the exploration of the well, Akoma well- 1X, was located approximately 50 kilometers off the coast and about 12 km north-west from Sankofa hub, where the John Agyekum Kufuor FPSO was located. The well was drilled by the Maersk Voyager drilling ship in a water depth of 350 meters and reached a total depth of 3790 meters. The Akoma - 1X proved a single gas and condensate column in a 20 m thick sandstone reservoir interval of cenomanian age with good petrol physical properties and hydrocarbons. "Akoma - 1X is the first well drilled in CTP-Block 4 and represents a discovery of a potentially commercial nature, due to its close distance to the existing infrastructure. The discovery can be put in production with a subsea tie to the FPSO with the aim to extend its production plateau." The Joint Venture of CTP-Block 4 is formed by Eni Ghana (operator, 42.469%), Vitol Upstream Tano (33.975%), GNPC (10%), Woodfields Upstream (9,556%), Explorco (4,00%). It said Ghana, was among the key Countries for Eni’s organic growth and has been operational in the Country since 2009 and accounts for a gross production of about 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
    • Ethiopia to commission the Genale Dawa III hydroelectric dam

      Ethiopian Deputy Minister of Water and Irrigation, Frehiwot Woldehanna has announced that the Genale Dawa III hydroelectric dam would be commissioned in the second half of 2019. According to China Gezhouaba Group Company (CGGC, the contractor in charge of the project, the dam will start supplying electricity to the national grid by the second half of 2019. The 254 MW capacity facility is a concrete-lined rockfill dam built in the Genale Dawa River Basin in the Oromia region of southern Ethiopia. The water reservoir is 110 m high and has a peak length of 456 m. The container of the dam is capable of holding 3.2 million m3 of water and is equipped with a spillway. Water enters the plant through a 679 m long tunnel, which runs three 84.7 MW turbogenerators, CGGC which oversees the civil and electronics works of the project said. Note that 60% of the financing was provided through a loan from Exim Bank of China. The remaining 40% was injected directly by the Ethiopian State. Chinese company, Electric Power Equipment and Technology, will start operating the transmission line from Ethiopia to Kenya in the second half of 2019. The 1,045 km long line will be able to transmit 2,000 MW of electricity.
    • Goldman Sachs to sell fixed income products in South Africa, seeks licence

      JOHANNESBURG, May 15 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs is seeking a South African banking licence as part of plans to offer fixed income products in the country, sources and the Wall Street investment bank said, beefing up its African operations as global rivals scale back. The bank, which is in the midst of a sweeping overhaul and drive to win more clients to counter falling revenue, said on Wednesday the expansion would see it offer products including foreign exchange and government bonds. “The long-term economic potential of South Africa is unquestionable,” Colin Coleman, Goldman CEO of sub-Saharan Africa, said in a statement. Other investment banks, including Credit Suisse and Barclays, have slimmed down or exited their African operations altogether. Credit Suisse closed its South African business last year during the country’s first recession since 2009. Years of alleged corruption and mismanagement have knocked confidence in the continent’s most industrialised economy, which is still struggling for growth. Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters Goldman was seeking a South African banking licence as part of the move. The bank said its plans were still subject to certain regulatory approvals.


      While some international investment banks have shrunk their presence in Africa, local South African lenders are ramping up their corporate and investment banking offerings elsewhere on the continent. So has France’s Societe Generale. Richard Gnodde, CEO of the bank’s international operations, said Africa was a substantial and growing part of its business, where it saw “tremendous opportunity” to better serve clients. Goldman is grappling with a slump in revenue and has been trying to expand its client base by selling more of its core banking products. It said its expansion plans include an equity trading cooperation agreement with Investec, which would see both banks extend their equity trading capabilities in South Africa and deepen links with African and international institutional clients looking to invest in the region. The agreement would be launched in the coming weeks and will look to expand into additional African markets, it said. Goldman also reportedly recently applied for a banking licence in Japan to offer corporate cash management services. It has also moved into consumer banking, opening an online-only retail bank called Marcus, and invested in financial technology firms such as UK-based online wealth manager Nutmeg and South Africa’s Jumo, which helps individuals and small businesses access credit and savings products via mobile devices. (Reporting by Emma Rumney; editing by Jason Neely)
    • Egypt to develop a 600MW Photo-Voltaic Solar complex

      The Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) has signed an agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to develop a 600 MW solar power complex in Egypt’s West Nile province. Muneer Ferozie, IFC’s Regional Manager revealed the reports and said that the project will go in a long way to realizing the government’s renewable energy plan for 2035 to supply 20% of the generated electricity for renewable source by 2022, solar power accounting for almost 3% of this. By 2027, the plan aims to have installed 3.5 GW; which includes 2.8 GW of PV and 700 MW of concentrated solar power. An Additional 28.2 GW of PV will be expected by 2035. The project also comes as an addition to the 1.6 Gigawatt Benban complex in Aswan. IFC will act as a consultant on the project and for all issues pertaining to EETC program for renewable energy. However, the corporation did not release technical and financial details of the project. EETC launched the tender in December 2017 with the procurement of Egypt’s first tender for solar under a Build- Own- Operate model. In February 2018, ETTC is said to have received 18 offers from corporations such as Orascom, NTPC Ltd, and Toyota Tsusho among others and in September 2018, the company announced that it would only consider bids with a maximum tariff of US $ 0.025/ Kwh for the entire project. This decision was arrived at after the fall of solar power price below $ 0.03 threshold in July and August, in a tender for the 200MW Kom Ombo solar project, another BOO procurement.
  • Switzerland
  • United Arab Emirates
    • Customs duty on rebar and steel coil increased from 5% to 10%

      On 24 January 2019, the Dubai Customs issued notice No. 2/2019 (the notice) regarding the increase of customs duty rates applied to imports of rebar and steel coils from 5% to 10%. The notice was recently made available. This notice amended notice No. 1/2019 issued on 16 January 2019 on the same matter by introducing amendments on certain Harmonized System Code (HS Code) as well as limiting the application of the increased duty rate from 17 January 2019 to 31 December 2019. The list of products (defined by their HS Code) for which the Customs duty rate has been increased from 5% to 10% is provided in the table below.
      HS Code Description
      72 13 10 00 Containing indentations, ribs, grooves or other deformations produced during the rolling process
      72 13 20 00 Other, of free-cutting steel
      72 13 91 00 Of circular cross-section measuring less than 14 mm in diameter
      72 13 99 00 Other
      72 14 10 30 Of circular cross-section measuring less than 8 mm in diameter
      72 14 10 40 Of circular cross-section measuring 8-40 mm in diameter
      72 14 10 90 Other
      72 14 20 30 Of circular cross-section measuring less than 8 mm in diameter
      72 14 20 40 Of circular cross-section measuring 8-40 mm in diameter
      72 14 20 90 Other 10%
      72 14 30 30 Of circular cross-section measuring less than 8 mm in diameter
      72 14 30 40 Of circular cross-section measuring 8-40 mm in diameter
      72 14 30 90 Other
      72 14 91 00 Of rectangular (other than square) cross-section
      72 14 99 00 Other
  • United States
    • Interim guidance issued on Large Corporate Compliance (LCC) program

      The US Treasury Department and the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a Memorandum with interim guidance on the implementation of the Large Corporate Compliance (LCC) program. The Memorandum is dated 21 May 2019 and bears a Control Number of LB&I-04-0419-004. The Memorandum was issued to communicate changes in the administrative process for the selection and delivery of large corporate tax returns to employees of the IRS's Large Business and International Division (LB&I). Effective with the issuance of the Memorandum, the LCC program will supersede the Coordinated Industry Case (CIC) program within LB&I for the selection of large corporate cases. Beginning with the 2017 tax year, returns that meet the LCC criteria will be included in the LCC audit selection process (see United States-1, News 17 May 2019). The Memorandum is effective on 21 May 2019, and will expire on 20 May 2021.
    • Congressional Research Service issues report on US tariffs on Chinese products

      The Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the US Library of Congress has released a report entitled "Enforcing U.S. Trade Laws: Section 301 and China". The CRS report indicates an updated date of 23 May 2019 and is designated IF10708. Due to its concerns over China's policies on intellectual property (IP), technology, and innovation, the United States has implemented three rounds of tariff increases on a total of USD 250 billion worth of Chinese products under sections 301 through 310 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended, which are commonly referred to as section 301. China has increased tariffs on USD 110 billion worth of US products. The CRS report states that a protracted and expanding US-China trade conflict could sharply reduce bilateral commercial ties, disrupt international supply chains, diminish global economic growth, and be costly to US consumers and firms that depend on trade with China. The CRS report also states that China could further retaliate by curbing operations of US-invested firms in China, reducing its holdings of US Treasury securities, and curtailing rare earth material exports to the United States. The CRS has previously issued a related report entitled "China's Retaliatory Tariffs on US Agricultural Products" (IF11085, 29 January 2019). The CRS is an agency within the US Library of Congress and serves the US Congress throughout the legislative process by providing legislative research and analysis for an informed national legislature.
  • Tax Treaties
    • Tax Treaties

      A tax treaty is a bilateral agreement made by two countries to resolve issues involving double taxation of passive and active income. Treaties Update – May 2019  
      Date Country A Country B Object Status
      21.05.19 Bulgaria Pakistan Income Tax Treaty Signed
      17.05.19 Switzerland Ireland Income and Capital Tax Treaty Negotiations concluded